The Hague

Palace Gardens (Or: The last embrace of summer?)

The Netherlands is enjoying a last minute fling with summer today, with temperatures over 80F. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but here it is! I decided to take a stroll over to the Palace Gardens, which I’ve already blogged about a few times over the years (2012 and 2016).

Palace Gardens / Paleistuin in The Hague

It was lovely to sit in the sun and just read a book. Today I started a book by Neil Gaiman – The ocean at the end of the lane or De oceaan aan het einde van het pad in Dutch, as that was the language I was reading it in. It’s about a man who goes back to where he lived as a child to attend a funeral. While there he gets lost in his memories of his childhood.

One interesting and unexpected thing was that the book begins with a preface which reads “Ik schrijf in mijn eigen taal. Dat is Engels. Ik ben er erg dol op. Het is een goede, soepel taal, waarin ik kan uitdrukken wat ik te zeggen heb. …” Or, translated: “I write in my own language. That is English. I am very fond of it. It’s a good, flexible language where I can express what I need to say.”

I thought that was quite strange, and wondered if that preface was in every version of the book. But no, he goes on to say that his sister-in-law lives in Utrecht (a city in central Netherlands) and he brings his family to the Netherlands as often as he can to visit. He goes on to say that you don’t need an English/American upbringing to read this book, and since it is now translated into Dutch you can read it too (of course the preface was translated as well, since he doesn’t speak Dutch). Kind of cool.

The only small downside to going to a park to read is that sometimes you can get distracted and not be able to focus on the story. Especially when what you are trying to read isn’t in your native language… When I arrived, I chose a nice sunny bench, at the end to give others plenty of room to also sit down (the benches generally fit three adults). I’m at the far left, with no benches to my left. To my right, there are another three benches, all grouped right next to each other.

After a while, a man sat down on the other end of the bench I was at. No problem at all; he was just watching his kid. About five minutes later a woman sits down next to him, so I promptly and politely moved my backpack to the ground so she definitely had enough room. And then they began to talk. Argh.

Oddly enough, I had no problem when the conversations happening were at the next bench (about five feet away), but one foot away was a bit much. Especially since they were tourists speaking English, which meant hearing one language and reading another. I was pondering my options – 1) suck it up and keep reading 2) go find another bench 3) leave. But after a few minutes they all got up and left. Yay.

So I kept reading, having a personal goal of getting to 100 pages. I did that, and was at page 103 when two more people sat down at “my” bench with a few other folks in their group standing around them. And they began to talk loudly. Arghhhh again. This time I gave up – I was past my goal anyway – put my bookmark in place, stood up and left immediately.

I don’t know. Maybe I expect too much. It is a communal park after all. 🙂

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Festival tip (Or: The Streets of Chuck Deely)

This afternoon the city centre will be hosting a festival in honor of the street musician Chuck Deely who passed away in January 2017 (where has the time gone, really?).

The festival will be held from 12:00-18:00 in the Grote Markt street. The description says “musicians will be at every street corner”. From 18:00 the musical arts will move to the big stage at the Grote Markt, ending around midnight.

Download the schedule (PDF)

More information at chuckdeely.nl or visit the Facebook page The Streets of Chuck Deely.

Flowers left in memoriam outside of Bijenkorf after his death
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Cotton candy truck in The Hague (Or: My head hurts)

Like everywhere else in the world, The Hague has its own dialect. The comic Haagse Harry exclusively uses this dialect (Dutch Wikipedia). It gives me a bit of a headache to try to read that one, but of course Marco can do it fairly easily.

Last month we spotted this cotton candy truck, written phonetically in the Haags dialect. The actual Dutch is “Genoeg suikerspin voor weinig” or “Enough cotton candy for little” (cheaply). But as you can see, the letters don’t look anything like that!

Seen on some street in The Hague early last month

If you want to translate some Dutch to Haags you can do so with this translator. Or check out the blog post I wrote when The Hague erected a statue of Haagse Harry in the artist’s (Marnix Rueb) honor.

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Helping hand on a hot day (Or: French restaurant LaSalle)

The Netherlands has been in the grips of a record-setting heat wave this week, with at least five provinces reaching 40C (104F). Due to the fact that The Hague is so close to the North Sea, we didn’t quite reach those temperatures – for us it was more like 36-37C (96-98F).

However, most people don’t have air conditioning in their homes. Why would you, when temperatures like this only happen a few days of the year? Luckily public buildings and work places tend to be at least climate controlled. On days like this it is beneficial to go into work rather than being at home, where the temperatures inside can easily hit 84-86F.

I was pleasantly surprised to see this table outside of LaSalle, a French restaurant here in The Hague city centre:

Free water (for both you and your pet) at La Salle

The sign says ‘Pak maar!’ or ‘Help yourself!’. They even thoughtfully put out a water bowl for pets, either dogs on a leash or neighborhood cats.

You have to understand that water fountains are almost unheard of in this country, both indoor and outdoor. The city and water company Dunea are trying to increase the amount of free water spots in the country, but that takes time.

To see free water on a record setting day – Thursday it was 40.7C (105F) in Gilze en Rijen (Google Maps) – is a step in the right direction.

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Lady on the bench (Or: Statue in The Hague)

Not far from the Peace Palace you can find a lady sitting on a bench, watching the world go by. And not just any lady, but Anna Pavlovna of Russia, Queen Consort to the Netherlands back in the 18th century. She married Willam the II in 1816 and had five children. If you read the Wikipedia page you’ll notice how odd it is to have a statue here – apparently she wasn’t a fan of the Netherlands and preferred instead to be in what is now Belgium (or better yet, Russia). But okay, the statue itself is still very beautiful.

A bit dusty, but a very pretty statue. Added in 1999 by the Russian architect Alexander Taratynov.

A bit further along the path you come across the Peace Palace. I had a bit of luck that day in terms of weather – no grey skies that day. (Unlike today!)

Blue, blue, and a bit of red flowers…
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New Papa John’s location (Or: More pizza by The Fred)

“The Fred” or De Fred is a neighborhood in The Hague, a shortening of the street name Frederik Hendriklaan, where the heart of the neighborhood can be found.

Last Monday a new Papa John’s pizza location opened on The Fred. It’s the first one in The Hague, although there are already locations in nearby Delft and Zoetermeer. It’s originally from the United States.

Waiting in line for free pizza

And of course (like what Dunkin’ Donuts does with new locations) the first 100 visitors that day received a free pizza.

“Free pizza for the first 100 visitors — we ❤ The Hague”

I’m actually not much of a fan of Papa John’s pizza, although admittedly I haven’t had any in years. I’m more of a thick pizza/thick crust person. But some of my friends do like it, so to each their own!

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Rolled up ice cream (Or: Rrrollend food truck festival)

It’s that time of year again! The Rrrollend food truck festival has returned to The Hague. Today was the last day, although they will be back at Lange Voorhout from August 9th to the 11th.

The highlight of this excursion this time around was the rolled up ice cream (Wikipedia), which I have never had before. The food truck was manned by a team out of Rotterdam (Facebook). It is a semi-solid ice cream made of cream, milk and sugar. The trick is that it is placed on a cold surface (chilled to -20 degrees) while it is being worked on. Check out this photo from the Wikipedia page:

Photo from Wikipedia user Thomson200 

Once frozen, you can roll up the ice cream as shown above.

Our mango mix rolled up ice cream from Friday
Today’s forest fruit rolled up ice cream. The rolling up didn’t go as well, but it was just as delicious!
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Day of Remembrance (Or: Jewish monument of The Hague)

Today was a Holocaust Day of Remembrance in The Hague for the Jewish population. There was a small ceremony held in the city centre in the afternoon to remember those who were lost during WWII.

The Jewish monument in The Hague – at Rabbijn Maarsenplein, a Jewish neighborhood prior to WWII

You can read more about the monument at the official website (nl | en). Also something interesting: some of the flowers came from various embassies, including Germany, Austria, and Israel. Others came from citizens.

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Flowers in the sun (Or: A spring day)

Here are a few more photos from last weekend’s gorgeous sun:

The shape of the purple-pink flowers is especially eye-catching.
These bright red flowers are along the water by the Buitenhof
Flowers in the foreground, monument to Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in the background.

The stone building on the right is the former American embassy of The Hague, which since moved further away from the city centre. The monument in the distance is to Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, a Dutch colonel back in the 18th century.

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Warm weather (Or: Who needs a jacket?)

Yesterday I had the day off so I went for a walk. The weather has been great for the Easter holiday: 70-75F with a ton of sun. One of the places I walked through is the Binnenhof, a place mentioned a lot on this blog. I like going there and watching the tourists, actually. It’s weird to live somewhere that tourists visit. So I go there and watch the families and friends excitedly taking photos of this and that…

Here is my photo, with the beautiful blue sky behind.

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